Sunday, June 25, 2006

My All Time Top Five

OK, OK, so this blog is supposed to be about writing... which means reading, too, right? It's Sunday night. I have five days of work left before I'm gone on vacation, and I'm assembling my reading list for the four days the Saint and I will be spending in paradise. (Paradise also includes Cooperstown and Fly Creek, but I'm referring to vacation paradise.)

Yeah, we're bringing the new Barry Eisler in paperback, and I have some of William Kennedy's Albany cycle, and I'll bring along Konrath's latest, and probably the newest Lee Child.

But putting together my reading list got me thinking... I like keeping lists. I have lists for everything. I inherited this love of lists from my mother.

I'm not just talking about groceries, work and laundry. I list favorite movies, favorite songs, favorite singers, favorite writers.

And favorite books.

Here's my top five. They're all novels:

  1. Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
  2. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
  3. Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying
  4. Truman Capote, In Cold Blood
  5. William Kennedy, Legs
The top three, you can find in my blogger profile. But numbers four and five are the main reason I put up this post. They've been on my reading list for many years, at least since I was in high school. I've seen both the movie and the TV remake of In Cold Blood. Legs Diamond has fascinated me for years because he was a famous gangster murdered in Albany.

And over the past month, I finally read Legs and In Cold Blood.

Were they good? You be the judge: They knocked Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers right off the list. They pushed For Whom the Bell Tolls from number 4 to number 6. Those remain two of the best books I've ever read.

Yeah, I know, the list is fluid, but the top 2 haven't moved since 1992, and Lesson has been sitting pretty at number three for six years.

What does that say about me? Well, it opened my eyes. I read mostly thrillers. I write thrillers. But my top five? All literary fiction.

Which is good, I guess. And I admit, this post is self-indulgent, but I have a point (I hope).

What are your favorite books? What are your top three, five, ten?

I'm interested because I learned something about myself simply by compiling my own list. Maybe I'll learn something about you if you post yours.

Go ahead, indulge yourselves.


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